Say one thing, do another has been a practice of long standing with Canadian governments. Saying one thing and then doing something else entirely is even more popular than the next favorite procedure; address a problem by doing something that creates the impression (illusion?) that you are doing something about it, but in fact you are not, and in fact never really intended to. Federal Liberal governments in our recent history have done more than anyone else ever has to turn people off of political engagement through the over use of both these procedures. Political observers know that a low voter turnout favours the incumbent, so why shouldn’t the party in power try to disillusion the voters? That would just be good business. The result has been the creation of a deep cynicism in the Canadian electorate. And who can blame us?
The Liberals could certainly talk the talk at election time. But they weren’t fooling any one; they would campaign like the NDP and then govern like the Tories. Most definitely the Liberals are as guilty as a puppy sitting next to pile of poo when it comes to the old policy switcheroo. (Remember Jean Chretien?s promise to “replace” the GST? Whoops! Is that Shiela Copps running in a by-election over there??) But once again I am forced to admit that no matter how scummy their moral pit of putrescence became, the Liberals have got nothing on Steven Harper on this score.
What makes Harper so special is that he and his marionettes on his side of the house will say the sky is yellow and it always has been that way if it suits them. And if you don’t think it is yellow too, it’s because you’re some kind of foreign funded job-killing radical.
Consider the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Kevin Page. By all accounts a serious minded man intent on accomplishing his mission. The office was created by Stephen Harper, and a good thing too, it is needed. Straight from the Government: “The mandate of the Parliamentary Budget Officer is to provide independent analysis to Parliament on the state of the nation’s finances, the government’s estimates and trends in the Canadian economy; and upon request from a committee or parliamentarian, to estimate the financial cost of any proposal for matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction.”
Very recently Mr. Page requested information from 84 Federal Government departments so he could do some independent analysis of the impact of the Government’s 5.2 billion dollar cuts. This is the kind of thing that could be good to know. Are those cuts actually going to result in savings, or are they going to cost money? Or as a result of the cuts, what are we not going to be doing, and what is cost of NOT doing it? It isn’t rocket surgery, if you run equipment and decide to save money by cutting your maintenance program you will save money for a minute or two, but you’re going to be out of business pretty quick.
Anyway, 66 of the Departments, no doubt because they’ve been told to, have refused to cooperate with the PBO. John Baird (marionette extraordinaire) stood in the House and told us that the PBO has overstepped his mandate, which is a bald faced lie. (Sue me?) He is trying to do the job that the Government said they wanted him to do, but now it turns out they don’t really want us to know what is actually going to happen to the money after all this budget mess. They don’t want us to know the facts.
That way it is easier for them to continue presenting their own made up version of the facts that will support their decisions.
Independent analysis provides you with the facts. Facts are what you need to make decisions; fact-based decisions. If what you really want to be able to do is make decision-based facts, you need to PREVENT independent analysis.
Kevin Page may not be Genie, but he is out of the bottle by Harper’s own hand. Go Kevin Go!
Dave Menzies, Terrace, B.C.